Knitting To Stay Sane

Knitting To Stay Sane

I’m having a rough week, so I’ve been doing a lot of knitting to stay sane. Knitting is my “go to” project when I’m struggling, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Focusing on the details gives me something to think about that doesn’t hurt or make me sad, and many times, finishing a project gives me a sense of accomplishment that bolsters my mood and gets me going in the right direction again.

It’s still raining a lot here (every day in July, so far), so the kids can’t get outside to play as much as they would like. We’ve been lazy this week — cuddled up on the couch watching movies and TV shows on Netflix. The rain will pass soon enough and they’ll be back to running a hundred miles per hour, but for now I’m really enjoying this quiet downtime with my girls.

I finished a pair of socks that have been languishing on the needles for months now. I’d work on them a little, then set them aside to work on something else. David was thrilled to come home from work to a brand new pair of socks; this man loves his hand-knit socks!

Knitting To Stay Sane | The Destiny Manifest

I’m particularly proud of how the stripes line up on this pair of socks — that was no easy feat! The socks fit him perfectly and he wore them to work today, so I’d say he’s pleased!

I used my own basic toe-up sock pattern for this pair of socks. For David, this means a magic cast-on of 28 stitches, increase to 76, knit for 9.5 inches, short row the heel down to 14 stitches and back up to 76 total, {knit 2, purl 2} for 8-9 inches for the cuff and cast off… then repeat for sock #2.

Knitting To Stay Sane | The Destiny Manifest

I’ve already cast on for the next pair, one of three pairs for my mother. She’s got almost as many pairs of my hand-knit socks as David does, and she’s been requesting more for a while now. I’m more than happy to acquiesce to knitting for people who appreciate it as much as these two do!

I’m connecting with others via Wordless/Wordful Wednesday today! Check out my blog hop directory to see who else is participating, as well as the other blog hops that I join each week!

Happy 12th Birthday, Lakin!

My oldest daughter Lakin’s 12th birthday was yesterday, but she’s decided that she’s not “officially” a year older until exactly 10:55pm, the time she was born on July 16, 2001. I was going to post these pictures yesterday, but she requested that I wait until she was “actually 12”. So, here we are!

We had an awesome Pokemon birthday party on Saturday, complete with super cool Pokemon “Pokeball” fondant cake that David and I spent all night decorating. {Check out this post with fondant cake decorating tips and hints for beginners!}

We also decorated two dozen Pikachu cupcakes — and in case you don’t speak Pokemon, Pikachu is one of the more popular characters, widely considered to be the mascot of the Pokemon franchise. He’s not Lakin’s absolute favorite Pokemon, but we were pretty well out of energy by that point and fondant decorating two dozen cupcakes to look like Squirtle the turtle just wasn’t going to happen. Next year!

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Early Sunday morning, we headed over to the video game store so Lakin could use the gift card that was burning a hole in her pocket. She traded in two older games for store credit and used the whole amount to buy… a new Pokemon game! Who would have ever guessed?

In addition to the new game, she is also the proud owner of FOUR new Pokemon t-shirts, several brand new outfits, and a make-up bag with mascara (clear), powder (ivory), and lip gloss (nude). I’m willing to let her start wearing a little make-up, but as you can see, I’m not ready for it to look like she’s wearing make-up. In time, my girl, in time.

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

All in all, she said it was an “awesome” birthday – the highest of compliments from a tween!

(I can’t believe I’m almost the mother of a full-blown teenager! Yikes! Where did the last dozen years go!?)

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

Our oldest daughter is a Pokemon fanatic, so we’ve been planning a Pokemon birthday party for weeks. Originally, we talked about making a six layer cake, similar to the rainbow cake from two years ago, and then shaping it and icing it to make a Pikachu Pokemon cake. It’s still a great idea, but for this party, we decided to try our hand at fondant cake decorating.

My knowledge of fondant cake decorating, prior to making this Pokemon cake, comes directly from watching “Cake Boss” and various cake challenges on Food Network. In other words, I had no real idea of what I was doing, but I’ve seen amazing creations made from fondant. We figured “we’re creative, we can do this” — and we were right! It took a little trial and error, and I am happy to pass on our fondant cake decorating tips and hints. We’ll definitely be decorating fondant cakes for future special events! 

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

1. Don’t be afraid to try! I have avoided fondant cake decorating for a long time because I {mistakenly} thought it was out of my league. Once I took the leap and gave it a try, I had so much fun — and my husband and I brainstormed a dozen more cool cake ideas while we were working. Take a deep breath and go for it… if worse comes to worst, you can just re-roll the fondant and start over!

2. Use plenty of cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands, the table, the rolling pin, your work surface… in short, everything. If you get the fondant a little too dry and it starts to crack, add a tiny bit of vegetable shortening to soften it back up again.

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

3. No cornstarch on hand? You can use powdered confectioner’s sugar too! It works the same way as cornstarch, keeping the fondant from sticking to everything, plus it has the bonus of adding a little more sweetness to the flavor.

4. If you use pre-packaged fondant from Wilton, take a few minutes to knead the fondant before you attempt to roll it out. It’s much easier to roll out and work with fondant when it’s been warmed up a little. Cover the rest of the fondant in a sealed Tupperware container or zip-lock bag to keep it from drying out.

5. Cover your work surface with wax paper, because the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar is going to get everywhere. Clean up is much faster when you can just swap out the wax paper covering your surface!

6. When rolling out your fondant, remember to keep turning it — roll, give it a quarter turn, roll some more, turn it again! Otherwise, you’re going to be so proud of your perfectly smooth rolled-out fondant, and so disappointed when you try to move it and it sticks to your work surface. Even when using cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar, you have to keep turning fondant when rolling it out!

7. If you decide to roll out a darker color of fondant first, and then decide to roll out your white fondant next, take the time to change the wax paper covering your surface first! If not, you may realize {too late} that you have tiny flecks of red in your perfectly smooth white fondant. Ask me how I know!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

8. Don’t roll your fondant too thin or it will stretch and/or rip easily. You want to aim for between 1/4 and 1/8 inches thick — about as thick as a wooden popsicle stick.

9. When it comes time to place the fondant on the cake, more hands are better! I had trouble lifting the large red piece that would cover half of our Pokemon cake without stretching or ripping it, so I was very grateful to have my husband there to help me lift and set the large pieces in place.

10. If you do accidentally rip the fondant, you can repair it by scooping a little vegetable shortening onto your finger and then rubbing it gently. You’re basically going to slowly ease the edges of the hole together, applying pressure so the pieces will meld together. We had a rather large rip on one side of our Pokemon cake and after trying this trick… you couldn’t even tell where the hole had been. Awesome!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

11. If you’re assembling small fondant pieces to go on top of your cake and you have to stop in the middle of the construction, refrigerate the pieces in a Tupperware container to keep them moist and easy to work with.

12. Once you’ve finished assembling smaller fondant pieces into a large decoration for your cake, do not place it on your cake until just before the party/event or the moist icing will soften the fondant and the color may bleed. Allow the finished fondant piece to dry out in a safe place where the guest of honor won’t see it!

13. I let my husband take the helm when it came to cutting out the numbers for our daughter’s Pokemon cake. He used a new blade in an X-Acto knife and held it as though he was drawing with it. He “drew” each number and then went back to refine the edges and remove the fondant from around the numbers. He lifted each number with the X-Acto blade and placed it carefully on the cake, then used the end of the handle to help move them around until they were in the right position. Wilton sells a variety of tools specifically for fondant cake decorating, but we made do with what we had on hand, and I think we did just fine!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

14. Go slow, be patient, and don’t give up! Take the time to make sure each piece of fondant is exactly where you want it before you allow it to dry, because it will be a lot more difficult to move and reshape pieces once they’ve dried in place

15. Enjoy the happy exclamations of your birthday guest of honor! Our daughter flipped when she saw her bright “Pokeball” Pokemon cake (and two dozen Pikachu cupcakes) and it made every minute of cake decorating worthwhile!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Pokemon "Pokeball" Fondant Cake & Pikachu Cupcakes

Husband’s Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

On holidays and birthdays, it’s our tradition that the honoree chooses their favorite dish. It’s only fitting that David’s choice for Father’s Day was a family favorite – Husband’s Delight Freezer Casserole. On a day that was destined to be very sad and difficult for my beloved husband, I was glad that I could offer him his favorite meal, cooked with love.

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe | The Destiny Manifest

This recipe is so easy to make and there are never leftovers… it’s that delicious! When I make this dish, I double it and freeze the second casserole for those nights when I don’t feel like cooking. It freezes so well!

Husband’s Delight Freezer Casserole

Ingredients:
1 package egg noodles
2 lbs. ground beef
1 26-oz. jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt/Pepper to taste

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Cook the egg noodles according to package directions; then drain well with a colander.

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Start layering your casserole by placing the cooked and drained noodles into the bottom of a large baking dish. Beat the cream cheese and sour cream together and spread over noodles. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to spread, so I usually put several spoonfuls of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles and then spread them around evenly. It won’t be gorgeous to look at, but it’s going to taste amazing!

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Brown the meat and drain well. Add a big jar of spaghetti sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to bubbling and then remove from heat.

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Pour the meat sauce mixture over the cheese mixture in the baking dish. At this point, my mouth is watering and my kids (and husband) are usually hanging over my shoulder wondering when dinner is going to be ready. 

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top of your casserole. You can use as little or as much as you’d like… we like a lot! Pop it into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

If you make a double recipe and want to freeze the second casserole, just cover it tightly (I use Pyrex with a snap lid). I usually pull it down to the fridge the night before to thaw it out, then cook as usual – 20 minutes at 350 degrees. If you want to put the casserole directly into the oven from the freezer, I’d recommend baking it covered on about 250 degrees to start, then after about 15 minutes or so, turning the heat up to 350 degrees and cooking as directed. Delicious!

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

As always, the family finished off the casserole in record time… I think if I cooked both casseroles, they’d probably eat both casseroles, because Husband’s Delight is that tasty. As it is, David licked the platter clean… 

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

and then fought off the ever-hungry tweens!

Husband's Delight Freezer Casserole Recipe

[yumprint-recipe id=’1′]

Yarn Flower Wreath – Crafts by Kids

My super crafty daughters and I have created a sweet new yarn flower wreath for our front door!

Yarn Flower Wreath - Crafts by Kids | The Destiny Manifest

One of Addah’s Christmas gifts was a Martha Stewart knitting loom, and she’s kept pretty busy with it, weaving potholders and knitting squares for a blanket. She found directions in the booklet for creating yarn flowers and made several of them to cover the brim of her vintage Stetson (lovingly passed down from my Grandpa) for Hat Day at school. So cute… I really need to take a picture.

She had a lot of fun making those first few flowers, and it was her idea to make dozens of bright colored yarn flowers and use straight pins to decorate our front door wreath. It took us most of Spring Break Week, but we did it… and the results are just beautiful! We used a straw wreath form for the base, wrapped it with plain natural wool yarn, and then covered it with little flowers – I’d say probably 150 or so, really.

Yarn Flower Wreath - Crafts by Kids | The Destiny Manifest

It was simple… and didn’t seem time-consuming, even though we made SO MANY flowers. I’m sure this was partially because it was during our “stay-cation” week, and partly because we were doing the project together and it was fun to keep adding the flowers and watch it all come together, little by little. Once the flowers were all in place, Lakin suggested that we add a couple of wire butterflies, and they were the perfect finishing touch.

Yarn Flower Wreath - Crafts by Kids | The Destiny Manifest

I love that my girls are so imaginative and interested in being crafty. It really does my heart good.

For more crafts by kids, check out Addah’s Simple Yarn Roses! Don’t forget that from now until July 1st, 60% of all sales through GraphiteWeb.com will be donated to Molly Bears, in honor of Clara.

I’m linking up several places for Wordful/Wordless Wednesday…

live out loud button better in bulk button seven clown circus button babybabylemon jenni from the blog button Pictimilitude button Fresh Mommy Blog
Wordless Wednesdays parenting BY dummies
Wordless Wednesday by David 5 Minutes for Mom organic-mama.ca Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

Rainbow Tinted Mason Jars – #WW Link-Up

Rainbow Tinted Mason Jars

I’ve had this pretty little Pinterest project for rainbow tinted mason jars saved for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a whirl. I love everything about this project… the mason jars and the bright rainbow colors! Not being able to use these particular jars for food storage or drinking anymore is a small price to pay — I can still use the jars for flower vases!

I followed Liz at Momtastic’s tutorial directions almost exactly. I mixed the Mod Podge, food coloring and water directly in the mason jars, instead of using individual small ramekins. I don’t have that many tiny bowls, and I didn’t want to use our cereal bowls, and mixing everything directly seemed to work just fine. I found that, for me, liquid food coloring mixed up much better than gel food coloring. The gel wanted to stick in clumps and those colors (pink and yellow) are the ones that streaked more during the baking/drying process.

Rainbow Tinted Mason Jars

The tutorial advises baking the jars for an initial 10 minutes, then flipping them over and baking them for an additional 20-30 minutes. My jars had to sit in the warm oven for a lot longer than 20-30 minutes. There were still a lot of streaks at that point, and I ended up leaving the jars in the oven for closer to an hour after the initial time Liz stated.

Rainbow Tinted Mason Jars

I really love these rainbow tinted mason jars! So pretty! We took the pink mason jar to Clara’s gravestone to hold her flowers. I have been keeping daisies in the green mason jar. Lakin and Addah have claimed the purple and yellow ones – Lakin has her money stored in her jar, while Addah has her bottle cap collection in her jar.

I’m wondering if it would work to paint the Mod Podge/food coloring onto the outside of the jar, up to the point where the tops screw on, so that they could still be used for food storage. It’s worth an experiment, I think… though if it works, I’m going to have to make about a dozen more of these lovely jars!

I’m linking up several places for Wordful/Wordless Wednesday…

live out loud button better in bulk button seven clown circus button babybabylemon jenni from the blog button pictimilitude button Fresh Mommy Blog
Wordless Wednesdays parenting BY dummies
Wordless Wednesday by David 5 Minutes for Mom organic-mama.ca Tales of a Pee Dee Mama